Meds and you

Updated 07 November 2013


Salbutamol is a bronchodilator. Bronchodilators are drugs that relax the muscles around the airways, helping the airways to open up, making it easier to breathe.


Salbutamol is the active ingredient of Vari-Salbutamol syrup (Nappi code:700920-001), Venteze inhaler (Nappi code:775363-006), Venteze CFC-free inhaler (Nappi code:711213-001), Venteze tablets (Nappi code:775398-004/012 and 775401-005/013), Venteze respirator solution (Nappi code:835994-007), Venteze syrup (Nappi code:775452-009/017), Ventolin syrup (Nappi code:775274-012), Ventolin CFC-free inhaler (Nappi code:817333-002, 775312-002, 775320-005), Ventolin Accuhaler (Nappi code:857289-004), Ventolin respirator solution (Nappi code:775339-008), Ventolin nebules (Nappi code:791229-009, 791237-001), Ventolin injection (Nappi code:775347-019) and Ventolin IV infusion solution (Nappi code:775355-003).

General information

Salbutamol is a bronchodilator. Bronchodilators are drugs that relax the muscles around the airways, helping the airways to open up, making it easier to breathe.

In South Africa salbutamol is registered as a bronchodilator to control reversible airway obstruction caused by bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is also used to prevent bronchospasm in exercise-induced asthma, and to suppress uterine contraction in premature labour.

When using the inhaler, it should be shaken well prior to use. Wait at least 1 minute between inhalations of the medicine. It is advised to prime the inhaler before use by releasing 4 test sprays in the air, away from the face.

Salbutamol may leave a bad or unusual taste in your mouth. Rinse your mouth with water after each inhalation to remove taste and to minimise dryness of the mouth and throat.

Do not exceed the recommended dose. If your usual dose does not provide relief, or if relief does not last at least 3 hours, medical advice should be sought.

How does salbutamol work?

Salbutamol relaxes bronchial smooth muscle by stimulating beta2 receptors. When fenoterol stimulates these receptors it causes the muscles in the airways to relax, making breathing easier.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 2, schedule 3 and schedule 4

Available as: salbutamol is available as syrup, tablets, inhaler, accuhaler, respirator solution, nebules, injection, IV infusion solution

What does it do? Salbutamol widens/opens the airways to make breathing easier.

Overdose risk: low

Dependence risk: low

Is salbutamol available as a generic? yes

Is salbutamol available on prescription only? no and yes (depending on formulation)

User information

Onset of effect: this depends on the formulation used. Within 5 - 15 minutes with the inhaler; within 60 minutes when taken orally.

Duration of action: this depends on the formulation used. Up to 6 hours with the inhaler; up to 8 hours with the oral solution.

Dietary advice: take the oral formulations with or after a meal.

Stopping this medicine: do not stop treatment with this drug without consulting your doctor. The original symptoms may recur.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

- you have a thyroid problem

- you have diabetes

- you have a heart disease

- you have high blood pressure

- you have glaucoma

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: presumed safe. Speak to doctor before use.

Porphyria: this medication is safe for use.

Infants and children: a reduced dose is advised.

Elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects are more likely to occur.

Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to tremors. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common Rare Only if severe In all cases
muscle tremor x
anxiety x
restlessness x
x x
blood pressure decreased
x x
breathing difficulties


Drug interactions

beta-blockers may reduce the effect of salbutamol and worsen broncho-constriction
digoxin digoxin levels may be decrease
theophylline blood potassium levels may be lowered
monoamine-oxidase-inhibitor antidepressants a dangerous rise in blood pressure may occur
tricyclic antidepressants increased risk of cardiac-related side effects

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Inhaler, adults: 1 to 2 inhalations every 4 to 6 hours. For the prevention of exercise-induced broncho-spasm: 2 inhalations 15 minutes before exercise.

Interesting fact

Salbutamol is taken by some as an alternative to clenbuterol for purposes of fat burning.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.

Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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